With 45 million people enslaved, it’s easy and frustrating to say that human trafficking is horribly thriving today in 2017. We are advanced in every way possible (technology, education, communication, etc.), but when it comes to the trafficking of human beings, we have actually spiraled out of control. The fight feels overwhelming, and it is really hard to believe that someone as small as myself could play any part possible. But, I did some research and learned that WEactually can make a tremendous difference in the fight against slavery.
Below you will find a few statistics as well as a few ways how we can unite to change the course of history. When I read these, it helps me put things into perspective. Life can be very hard every day, but, not as hard as being forced into sexual exploitation, or living in severe poverty. We didn’t chose what we were born into, and I often ask “Why?” or, “What for?”, because it feels unfair. However, though I may never know the answers or understand, I know that I have to be part of the solution.
80% of sex trafficking victims are women and girls and up to 50% are minors. (U.S. State Department) - In Plain Sight
Globally, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation globally.
There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. According to Polaris project, the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.
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Here's what we can do...
1 | EDUCATE YOURSELF
If you educate yourself on any subject, chances are you will start to change. Therefore, lend some of your time to finding out what is going on.
Read the news. We all spend time on the internet and it can easily be a distraction or cause idleness. But, we can use it for good. We can start by setting alerts to get the latest updates on slavery. Some sites I frequent often are the following:
Learn where your clothes are made. “The ILO estimates that 170 million are engaged in child labour, with many making textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond” -The Guardian. Learn more from the following articles below:
Know what is happening in the government. The government plays a huge role in the fighting of human trafficking. Last year they passed the The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act (TVPA). TVPA combats trafficking in persons, especially into the sex trade, slavery, and involuntary servitude. It has been reauthorized three times since its initial passage. Learn more about the laws and regulations by which the government enacts. But don’t stop there, because there are even weaker and more corrupt justice systems in other parts of the world that need our help and support. The International Justice System has been a force to reckon with in challenging the most severely corrupt justice systems.
2 | KNOW THE SLAVERY FOOTPRINTS WE LEAVE BEHIND
It’s hard to believe or imagine that our everyday choices actually aid human trafficking, especially when we can feel completely disconnected to it. However, the truth is, we leave behind slavery footprints alone through the supply chains of the purchased products we love. To have a deeper understanding of this notion, California-based company, Slavery Footprint (created by Made In a Free World), launched an app that can track and calculate how many slaves work for us based on the day-to-day acts we perform:
likely contains cotton that was picked by children in Uzbekistan who are forced to trade their school days for days in the fields.
has Capacitors that are made with Coltan. 64% of Coltan reserves are located in Congo where child labourers are work from sunrise to sunset.
there are estimated 200,000 child slaves working in Ivory Coast alone, harvesting 40% of the world's cocoa beans.
3 | JOIN OR BUILD A COMMUNITY
As mentioned above, we cannot face this problem in silos. Whether it is a church group, bringing together friends, or seeking out an organization to just encourage them with kind words, be part of the community. If you don’t know of any, start one yourself. You can start small or you can join in somewhere that is more established, either way, don’t wait.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
― Mother Teresa
4 | CALL UPON THE GOVERNMENT
The government has power to enforce anti-human trafficking laws, but we know that it is the people who can enforce the government to enact them. It is the government’s job to hear our voices, concerns and pleas. Gather a group of like-minded and passionate individuals and meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know you care about combating human trafficking, and ask what they are doing to address it.
Now that we know there are things that we can do, let’s get started. If you would like to add to this list, please feel free to shoot our team a note at email@example.com.
Elena + The WTA Team
(Photo courtesy of Congressman Darrell Issa)